Sequester Could Cost U.S. 750,000 Jobs, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf Says

02/13/2013 12:23 pm ET

Lawmakers’ political wrangling could cost Americans hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The $1.2 trillion across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to take place in March if Congress does nothing, could result in the loss of 750,000 jobs in 2013, Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office told lawmakers Wednesday.

"We think that would reduce the level of employment by the end of the year [by] about 750,000 jobs," Elmendorf said in the hearing, according to BuzzFeed.

The so-called sequester can be avoided if Congress comes up with an $85 billion alternative by March 1. Republicans are insisting the deal not raise taxes, while Democrats say a deal must include revenue increases, not just spending cuts.

President Obama fueled the battle during his State of the Union address Tuesday, accusing Republicans of shifting the possible cuts from defense and military spending to social programs.

If Elmendorf’s projection proves true, the sequester could cost the U.S. more than four times the amount of jobs it gained last month in one swoop. And the 750,000 estimate may be conservative, the Bipartisan Policy Center said last month that 1 million jobs are at risk if the sequester goes forward as planned because it would pull so much money out of the economy so quickly.

The threat of cuts has already hurt some workers. The Department of Defense requested approval to put civilian workers on furlough one day a week beginning in April, according to Politico. Other government agencies have taken steps too; the National Weather Service may shut down radars on sunny days in the South, according to the Washington Post.

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